6 min read

Western games go to Movie, Japanese games go to Anime?

In recent years, many famous Western games are on the film production. On the other hand, many Japanese games are made into anime. Here are 4 case studies that give you valuable insights to know what happens in the Japanese game industry.

(I initially posted this article in my blog LEAP TO THE FUTURE. )

In recent years, it has been announced over and over that famous, big game titles, like Assassin's Creed and Warcraft, are being made into movies. The movie of Sony's property, Ratchet & Clank was released at April this year and other property, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune are on the film production now.

ASSASSIN'S CREED Official MOVIE Trailer (2016)

WARCRAFT Movie Trailer (2016)

During E3 2016, Ubisoft revealed that they have queued production of  Watch Dogs movie, to join their other works (Ghost ReconSplinter CellThe Rabbids and so on).

Moreover, last year the rumor spread that Zelda, a very popular franchise owned by Nintendo, will be made into a movie. There are many rumors about film production of famous game titles in the industry.


For a long time, the most gamers have been disappointed and tired of the imperfect quality of the movies that were made by ignoring the original game's basic concept and philosophy. However, as for Assassin's Creed and Warcraft, the game studios considerably committed to the film production and so both works are expected to break out the long-time skepticism.

The movies of game titles are able to attract new users that have no interest in the video game. The game publishers have an opportunity of both acquisition of many users and expansion of their properties.

On the other hand, in Japan, so many game titles are made into anime. This year there are over 15 game titles being made into anime as listed below:

- Winter Season -
Hakuouki: Otogisoushi

- Spring Season -
Divine Gate
Monster Strike (2nd season)

Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue
Girls Beyond the Wasteland

- Summer Season -
Ace Attorney
Danganronpa 3 Side: Future / Side: Despair
Tales of Zestiria
Puzzle & Dragons Cross
Ange Vierge
SHOW BY ROCK!! short!!
Dream Festival!

(Monster Hunter Stories will be released in Oct.)

Why are so many game titles made into anime?
OK, here are 4 case studies that give you valuable insight into what happens in the Japanese game industry.

Japanese case 1: Reach out to kids (main customer base of the handheld console)

Capcom's properties Ace Attorney and Monster Hunter Stories are made into anime and are scheduled on time for Kids before the latest titles of both series are released for 3DS. In Japan's handheld game market, the main customer base is children from preschooler to middle school age.

Ace Attorney PV 30sec ver.

Gungho, a famous online game publisher of Puzzle & Dragons, also releases Puzzle & Dragons Cross for 3DS and TV anime around the same time, this july. As shown in the brilliant success of both Pokemon and Yo-kai Watch, TV anime is the strongest method to reach those ages.

Japanese case 2: Adventure game creators move into anime?

It has become difficult year by year to sell adventure games in Japan. The number of releasing titles in the genre has decreased in recent years. Most traditional adventure games in Japan have poor visual quality like static image and text. In contrast to that, TV animes have rich visual quality. Also, most titles don’t utilize natures of interactive media to the fullest. As a result, many users prefer watching animes rather than playing adventure games in terms of enjoying the story.

In late 00s, many scenario writers of the visual novel genre in PC changed jobs into scenario writers of TV anime or light-novel writers. To give some famous examples, Gen Urobuchi (games such as Kikokugai, animes such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica), Jun Maeda (games such as CLANNAD, animes such as Charlotte), and so on.

In 10s, some scenario writers of adventure games in console expands their jobs into scenario writing of Anime. For example, Jiro Ishii(director of 428) writes the scenario of BUBUKI / BURANKI and Kotaro Uchikoshi (creator of Ever17) writes the scenario of PUNCH LINE! .

Danganronpa 3 PV

Also, Spike Chunsoft releases TV Anime Danganronpa 3 and game sequel New Danganronpa V3 for PS4 and PSVita this year. Danganronpa 3 is split into two parts, Side: Future, a sequel to Danganronpa and Side: Despair, a prequel to Danganronpa 2. Kazutaka Kodala (scenario writer of Danganronpa series) serves as executive producer of the anime.

Japanese case 3: Reactivation of dormant users by anime

This is very simple, strong reason. Although one of the most important things about operating online game is active-user retention, most online games have more and more dormant users over time. Reactivating dormant users is a significant activity in operating online game. As mentioned above, TV anime is an effective method to reach customers.

Love Live! Sunshine!! PV

As the Google Trends data  below shows, user’s interest jumps up higher every time anime sequels are released.

Google Trends

The most recent success example is Love Live! School idol festival. After Anime Love Live! Sunshine!! is released on July 2, the publisher updated the app into a new version added on Sunshine!! members and changed the the icon image into an image of new member: Honoka Kōsaka into Chika Takami.

change app icon into sunshine version

The result of this update is surprising! The game title gets Top of iOS sales ranking for the first time. TV anime is a powerful method to reach to Otaku users, of course, due to the nature of the user base, though.

Love Live! gets Top of iOS sales ranking

Japanese case 4: Visual novels are made into anime

Many famous visual novels in PC have been often made into anime since around 2000. Anime publishers expect that fans of the visual novel would purchase DVD/BD of the anime, and visual novel publishers want to promote sales of their games.

Animes based on visual novels are usually released several years after the original game’s release, and so game publishers release in game console like PSVita in the same time. Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue is an example.

Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue PV

The market for visual novels in the Western world is very small yet, but many anime based on visual novels are popular among western anime fans. Animes have a richer visual presentation than original games have and it is not necessary to read very long text in the original games.


TV anime is a strong method to reach to kids and Otaku users in Japan. Many game publishers promote sales of their games and reactivate their users by anime. On the other hand, the market for adventure games(visual novels) in Japan has been declining annually in recent years. Storytellers in interactive media have changed jobs into the light-novel writer or anime writer.

Thank you for reading this article to the end. I hope this article gives you valuable insights. Ask me in the comments If you have questions about the Japanese game -and-anime market.

(This article is posted on my blog)


"Assassign Creed" Production Companies: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Regency Enterprises, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, DMC Film, Hong Kong Alpha Motion Pictures Co., Kennedy/Marshall Company, The Latina Pictures, RatPac Entertainment
"Warcraft" Production Companies: Atlas Entertainment, Legendary Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment, Universal Pictures

(C) CAPCOM / MHST Production Partnership
(C) Spike Chunsoft Co., Ltd. / Hope's Peak Academy Third Video Club
(C) Project Love Live! / KLabGames / bushiroad
(C) sprite /  Kunahama High School FC Club


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